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Tax Cuts Create Layoffs, Not Jobs

These companies claimed the GOP tax bill would ‘boost jobs.’ Now they’re laying off employees. ThinkProgress: "In the lead-up to the enactment of the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, Donald Trump’s massive tax cut that mostly benefited rich people and big corporations, a coalition of powerful business interests formed with one major priority in mind: slashing the corporate tax rate. The Reforming America’s Taxes Equitably (RATE) Coalition comprised dozens of companies and trade groups that all insisted lowering corporate taxes would mean more jobs. A ThinkProgress review found that about half of RATE Coalition’s members have made layoffs since the law’s enactment. In other words, not only did the expensive tax cut not bring more jobs, it couldn’t even forestall significant job losses. In 2017, the RATE Coalition’s website identified 32 companies and trade groups who had come together around the singular mission to “reform the tax code, making it fairer and simpler and improving the prospects of growth and jobs in the U.S. economy by reducing the corporate income tax rate to make it more competitive with our nation’s major trading partners.' Together, they constituted a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization (first launched in 2011) and promised that a corporate tax rate reduction would 'boost job creation and economic growth.' Their membership list was a who’s who of Big Business: Aetna Inc., AT&T, Altria Client Services, Association of American Railroads, Boeing, Brown-Forman, Capital One, Cox Enterprises, CVS Caremark, Edison Electric Institute, FedEx, Ford, General Dynamics, Home Depot, Intel, Kimberly-Clark, Liberty Media, Lockheed Martin, Macy’s, National Retail Federation, Nike, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Reynolds American, P Global, Southern Company, Synchrony Financial, T-Mobile, UPS, Verizon, Viacom, and Walmart. In just the second quarter of 2017 alone, their combined corporate lobbying on taxes and other issues exceeded $48 million."

Calm Before Year-End Legislative Storm

The December lull before s* hits Senate fan. Politico: "Congress is expected to pass a two-week extension of government funding this week by unanimous consent. We don’t expect any problems. But this has given D.C. a strange, two-week lull, during which very little is expected to happen. The real back-and-forth between the two parties is expected to kick off next week, when Trump, Pelosi and Schumer are likely to meet at the White House. But even then, the Capitol Hill action won’t get real until the week of Dec. 17. Democrats and Republicans can’t even agree on the definition of what a border wall is and isn’t. But it’s not just government funding that runs out at year’s end. Congress needs to pass new disaster funding, the Violence Against Women Act needs to be renewed, and so do the farm bill and flood insurance."

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Grow At Record Pace

Greenhouse Gas Emissions Accelerate Like a ‘Speeding Freight Train’ in 2018. NYT: "Greenhouse gas emissions worldwide are growing at an accelerating pace this year, researchers said Wednesday, putting the world on track to face some of the most severe consequences of global warming sooner than expected. Scientists described the quickening rate of carbon dioxide emissions in stark terms, comparing it to a “speeding freight train” and laying part of the blame on an unexpected surge in the appetite for oil as people around the world not only buy more cars but also drive them farther than in the past — more than offsetting any gains from the spread of electric vehicles. 'We’ve seen oil use go up five years in a row,' said Rob Jackson, a professor of earth system science at Stanford and an author of one of two studies published Wednesday. 'That’s really surprising.' Worldwide, carbon emissions are expected to increase by 2.7 percent in 2018, according to the new research, which was published by the Global Carbon Project, a group of 100 scientists from more than 50 academic and research institutions and one of the few organizations to comprehensively examine global emissions numbers. Emissions rose 1.6 percent last year, the researchers said, ending a three-year plateau."

Saudis Used Veterans Group To Feed Trump Money

'We were just used to give Trump money': Veterans say the Saudi regime 'duped' them to funnel funds to Trump. Alternet: "In a detailed new report Wednesday, journalists David Fahrenthold and Jonathan O'Connell at the Washington Post showed how the Saudi regime used a veterans group to dump hundreds of thousands of dollars into President Donald Trump's business — an incident that has become emblematic of the Emoluments Clause case against the president. The Constitution's Emoluments Clause bars the president and other officials from receving payments from foreign governments while in office. Attorneys general from Washington D.C. and Maryland are currently bringing a case against the president because his continued control of his business empire has allowed him to receive such payments. And the Saudis, it seems, have been big customers. The Post reported that lobbyists for Saudi Arabia spent $270,000 at Trump International Hotel in D.C. shortly after Trump's election in 2016. It also found that the regime is finding other avenues to pay Trump money."

WI GOP's Shameless Power Grab

Wisconsin Republicans defiantly move to limit the power of incoming Democrats. NYT: "When Wisconsin Republicans pushed through a sweeping set of bills Wednesday to limit the power of the state’s newly elected Democrats, it was another hardball maneuver by a man who has played a key role in driving the state sharply to the right In the days after the Republican governor’s stunning loss last month — the end of eight years of one-party control of the state’s government — Robin Vos, the Republican speaker of the Assembly, was defiant. 'We are going to stand like bedrock to guarantee that Wisconsin does not go back,' Mr. Vos told local reporters after the midterms. This week, during an extraordinary special legislative session, Republicans managed to do it. After hours of mysterious closed-door meetings that went past midnight, the Wisconsin Senate convened at 4:30 on Wednesday morning and passed by one vote a package of bills devised to curb the powers of the incoming Democratic leaders. The State Assembly followed suit by a much larger margin later in the morning. The legislation was aimed at undermining Democrats. There would be a new limit on early voting, which tends to benefit Democratic candidates, after an election that saw record-breaking turnout. Lawmakers, not the governor, would control the majority of appointments on an economic development board. The legislation would also prevent Mr. Evers from banning guns in the Wisconsin Capitol without permission from legislators. The bills would also require Mr. Evers to get permission from lawmakers to seek adjustments on programs run jointly by federal and state governments, such as public benefit programs. The legislation would block Mr. Evers’s ability to withdraw the state from a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act, a major campaign promise. But the legislative package was so sprawling and rushed that many Democrats were still trying to assess the damage. 'Wisconsin has never seen anything like this,' Mr. Evers said in a statement. 'Wisconsin values of decency, kindness, and finding common ground were pushed aside so a handful of people could desperately usurp and cling to power while hidden away from the very people they represent.'"

Senate Judiciary Scraps Votes On Judges

Senate Judiciary Committee scraps votes on judges because of Mueller probe. CNN: "Sen. Jeff Flake's vow to block judicial nominees is significantly disrupting the Senate Judiciary Committee's plans to advance more of President Donald Trump's picks for the lower courts. The committee's chairman, Chuck Grassley, an Iowa Republican, scrapped a Thursday meeting, according to an announcement from the committee. A Grassley aide cited the reason as Flake not backing off his threat to vote against all pending nominees until he gets a floor vote on a bill to protect special counsels like Robert Mueller from political interference. This is the second meeting in consecutive weeks the committee has scrapped, delaying 22 nominees from floor consideration by the end of the year. That's because with Arizona Republican opposed to the nominees, they are unlikely to win a favorable vote in committee given that the GOP has a one-seat advantage on the panel. If they are not confirmed by year's end, the White House will have to renominate them next year. On Wednesday, Flake stood by his commitment to not vote for judicial nominees until the Mueller bill gets a vote. 'We can have the markup, I will just vote no,' Flake told CNN. Flake made his promise to block Trump judicial nominees last month following Trump's decision to fire then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions and replace him with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, an outspoken critic of Mueller's investigation."

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